The story of Esther begins with a grand banquet at the palace of King Xerxes. The king was drunk and commanded that his wife, Queen Vashti come out before everyone to show how beautiful she was. Queen Vashti refused to be paraded before everyone. King Xerxes was so angry at her disrespect and disregard for his request that he divorced her. The king then called for a nation-wide beauty pageant to be held to find a new beautiful queen.
A Jewish woman named Esther was taken with other young women to a citadel. Esther’s cousin, Mordecai had taken Esther in and raised her as his own after Esther’s parents died. A man named Hegai was put in charged of preparing the women for meeting the king. Esther’s beauty won Hegai’s favor and she was given special attention. Esther was careful however to not tell anyone her nationality, as Mordecai had warned her not to.
When it was Esther’s turn to go before the king, he immediately found her the most attractive and beautiful of all women and placed the royal crown on her head. King Xerxes held a great banquet for his new queen, Esther. Esther continued to hide her Jewish background as Mordecai had instructed her to do because he knew it would be dangerous for her if anyone would find out that she was a Jew.
One night, when Mordecai was sitting by the king’s gate, he overheard two guards named Bigthana and Teresh conspiring to assassinate the king. Mordecai told Queen Esther of the plan and Esther told the king, giving credit to Mordecai for overhearing the plan. The two guards were hanged.
Mordecai then refused to bow down the Haman, the highest of all nobles. When Haman found out about this and that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman became enraged with anger and wanted to kill not only Mordecai but all of the Jewish nation. Haman convinced King Xerxes to kill all Jews as they stood in opposition to the king’s rule. King Xerxes agreed and set a date for all Jews to be killed.
Mordecai told Esther about the king’s edict to kill all Jews.Esther feared for her life and tried to avoid his request to do something. Mordecai again pleaded with Queen Esther to do something to save the people. Esther responded instructing all Jews to join her in fasting for three days and three nights, then she would approach the king with her request.
Esther went to King Xerxes after three days of fasting and the king asked her what her request was. Queen Esther asked that the king and Haman join her at a banquet the next day. The king said yes, and asked Esther to let her request be known at the banquet. Haman was still so enraged with Mordecai that he went to set up a pole to impale Mordecai the morning before the banquet.
The king could not sleep that night and began to read the book that contained all that had happened during his reign. The king read and was reminded of how Mordecai exposed the plot to assassinate the king. The king wanted to reward Mordecai for his good deed and he called Haman in to ask what should be done for a man who the king delights in. Haman thought the king was talking about himself and responded saying extravagant gifts and honor. Haman was even more enraged when the king told him it was for Mordecai.
The next day was the banquet that Queen Esther had called for. The king again asked Esther what her request was so he could grant her what she wanted. Esther boldly asked that she and her people be spared and that Haman had plotted to kill all Jews for money. The king was filled with anger against Haman and had him hanged on the very pole that Haman had set up for Mordecai.
Queen Esther and Mordecai were given Haman’s estate. They were honored with royal garments and a decree was written to protect all Jews.
1 This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush :
2 At that time, King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,
3 and in the third year of his reign, he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.
4 For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.
5 when these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa.
6 The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.
7 Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality.
8 By the king’s command, each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.
9 Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him – Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas –
11 to bring before him, Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.
12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
13 Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the time
14 and were closest to the king – Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.
15 “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”
16 Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the people of all the provinces of King Xerxes.
17 For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’
18 This very day, the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
19 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.
20 Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”
21 The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan propsed.
22 He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.